More than 100 activists from a diverse array of groups gathered outside City Hall Tuesday to to announce that they will represent Philly at an event some compared to the 1963 civil rights March on Washington: the People's Climate Change March.
"Climate disruption and climate justice, arguably, are the most important issues of our time, and they affect every aspect of our lives, particularly the lives of those least responsible for the problems, such as those of lower socio-economic status, political power, and communities of color," said Community College of Philadelphia professor Margaret Stephens, who attended the rally with students from her environmental science class.
"It's time to take action. We have the science, we have the data, it's not a debate. Science doesn't lie," she said. "If there was an invasion, or a biological threat, something on the scale of the Ebola crisis, we would take action. But climate change is slower ... people tend to forget and focus on their day-to-day lives."
The goal of the Climate Change March is to change that.
The Sept. 21 march outside the United Nations in New York City will draw activists from across the nation to demonstrate for action from world leaders gathered for the 2014 UN Climate Summit.
The local rally was organized by 350 Philadelphia, a local chapter of350.org, a global environmental activism organization. Sixty-four Philadelphia organizations have pledged their support and plan to participate in the People's Climate March.
"People may have suffered from environmental consequences, but maybe haven't been involved," said Peggy Hartzell, 70, a Sierra Club and 350 Philly member. "My message is, just say to no fossil fuels. We can burn wood, and use solar and wind energy."
Grace Kennedy, 20, a student at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, said she will go to the march to seek inspiration for her work.
"If we started treating ourselves and other people better, we would treat the world better," Kennedy said.
Mayor Michael Nutter sent a letter of support to the Philadelphians who will be attending the People's Climate March.
"I have one thing to ask of you ... Don't leave your energy in New York City. Bring it home to Philadelphia with you and come back re-energized and committed to working on solutions here," Nutter wrote.
Crude oil fears
The Sierra Club filed a lawsuit last week against the U.S. Department of Transportation for not responding to its July petition demanding the government intercede to halt the usage of DOT-111 tanker cars to transport crude oil.
The DOT-111s, which were transporting crude through Philly on Jan. 20 when a partial derailment occurred over the Schuylkill River, have been criticized as "inadequate" for transporting materials like crude by the National Transportation and Safety Bureau.
At Tuesday's rally, protesters demanded that crude oil shipments through Philadelphia end entirely.